While coming home from work yesterday, I accidentally flushed a Red-tailed Hawk doing something behind the house. You know that look on a child’s face that something just happened and there is no way that they are going to tell you? Well, this was the same feeling I had with this Red-tailed Hawk who took off carrying something in its talons. I would have loved to follow it for a good photo opportunity but I needed to get the cats fed and get ready for the Kenn Kaufman talk. I did hiked through the deep snow for CSI – TOM to investigate those fallen remnants from under its perch (before I rudely interrupted is dinner). (more…)
These Cardinals teased me at my parent’s house and I just had to grab my camera from the truck. (more…)
Yesterday I started feeding the birds again after the feral cat took the cardinal a few weeks ago. Rumors have it that the cat was seen about a mile + away from my house. I hope it lost some interested with my empty feeder and gets lost in the deep woods. I will keep my eye open for any cat tracks and if found again, I will stop feeding for a second time. I enjoyed seeing my feathered friends again during my lunch break. I was amazed that chickadees returned within minutes of placing the feeder back in its spot on the tree.
I get calls all the time about a hawk that just visited someone’s feeder and they would like to know what kind of hawk is it?? Majority of the time the visitor is an Accipiter species like the Sharp-shinned Hawk or even the Cooper’s Hawk. The Accipiters have longer-tails and shorter-wings which allow them to chase the little birdies through the trees and shrubs. On occasions I have heard about Red-tailed Hawk stalking a feeder. Unlike the Accipiters who hunt by surprise, the Red-tailed Hawks will wait for their prey to come out in the open. The Buteos (which is the genus of the Red-tailed Hawk) have a shorter-tail and longer-wings which will allow them to soaring high up in the sky. They are also known to sit tight on a branch looking for any kind of movement and quickly swoop down on their prey when they are not looking.
Today one of my co-workers yelled down the hall that a Red-tailed Hawk just caught something at the feeder! Quickly I grabbed my camera and ran down the hall to see what happened. I captured a few shots (was a good distance away, sorry about the quality of the photos) and I was amazed how quickly it devoured this small critter. I feel confident that this hawk captured a small mammal due to not finding any feathers (most birds pluck the feathers away) and then closely examination the prey in the photographs. These small mammals could include meadow voles, mice, or even squirrels that might be hiding around the feeder. I have heard stories about how they witnessed a Red-tailed Hawk chasing a squirrel around a tree and then came within inches of actually catching it.
Obviously when a Red-tailed Hawk captures that squirrel the hawk needs to kill its prey as quickly as possible. If they fail to do so, the squirrel could bite the hawks toes and try to force it to let it go. This picture above shows a dead Red-tailed Hawk that was recently brought into the office. After closely inspecting it, we realized that it had numerous bite marks on its feet. Although this bird probably passed away from a vehicle strike, there was always a chance that it could have gotten an infection in its toes and then increased it chances of dieing from starvation (for not being able to use its feet properly).
I found some Cardinal feathers scattered about this morning and just knew something wasn’t right. I quickly headed outside to investigate the crime scene and hoped it was a Coopers Hawk or even one of the Screech Owls that made the kill! But these were mammal track left in the fresh snow. I would have settled with some fisher or even fox tracks but these were obviously cat tracks! Hmm, CSI-Tom followed the feral cat tracks to its hiding spot and you have no idea how bad I scared it away. I only wish I could have barrowed Zick’s Chet or even Mary’s Chloe to help with my cat problem!! But, it came down to removing the feeder, no seeds scattered about and blocking its hiding spot. I am now bird less at my home bird feeder and I am amazed at how quickly the birds learn that there isn’t any food around (or that a predator is around). Lucky I still have my birds at my window feeder (on the second floor) to keep me entertained.
Photo of birds from this weekend before I took everything down.
Then on my way home from grocery store; I happen to see a fox running away with something in its mouth! Is it bad that I wished it was the feral cat? Hard to tell under the moon light but looked like a meadow vole or something else that size. I have to appreciate the food chain but did it have to be one of my Cardinals?
This White-breasted Nuthatch was teasing me all day with opening seeds in my window feeder. I happen to pull out my point-and-shoot camera and captured this mini video clip. It would take the seed, place it in the crack and chip away at the shell to open the seed. Yes – my windows are dirty.
I am extremely happy that blip.tv has finally worked out the code for adding video clips to wordpress blogs!!! Expect many more fun video clips from me here in the near future!
BIRD BANDING NEWS FOR THE DAY
Today I recaptured a male Red-breasted Nuthatch who I had first banded on the 5th of October 2005 (I have caught this guy a few times now). I have 5 or 6 Red-breasted Nuthatch who have been banded around the office but I seriously think this little guy probably visits my window feeder more than any other of those nuthatches. I always love watching him climb up and down the window frame.
On numerous occasions I have always wondered where all of my favorite birdies end up roosting at night? I can remember a few occasions which I have actually found such birds trying to spend their evening sleeping! Of course I always seem to agitate them and then find myself feeling bad that I somehow had to inconvenience them. For example; you have those nesting birds like the American Robin who always seem to settle on that perfect location right next to the main door. During the day they will flush the nest with any attempt to approaching the door but at night they will lay very low and only flush when approached too close.
During the winter months some species will obviously make their wintering roost site noticeable by roosting together in one large group (but rarely do we see them actually sleeping). The most typical example is when the American Crows flying many miles from their wintering territories to this one specific tree in someone’s backyard. It is absolutely breathtaking to see so many crows filing to these specific trees and then together move over to their roosting trees. These roosts have been known to scare neighborhoods by their strange grouping behavior. I can also remember those sounds made by thousands of European Starlings congregating together in that one particular bridge that I walked across each day. Then on that one precise second near sunset; every starling will instantly stopped vocalizing and you hear absolute silence.
Then you have those cavity species that will spend their evening roosting in trees like the Eastern Screech Owl or Eastern Bluebird. These birds are trying to avoid the elements of the weather and there are some individuals who might use these same holes for nesting sites during the summer months. I am sad to say that I have found numerous tree swallows smothered on the bottom of bluebird box after a cold spell approached. These birds were over stacked in the box while trying to use their body heat to stay warm. Those individuals on the bottom of the box had too many birds stacked on top of them and lost their life. Lucky this doesn’t happen on a regular basis.
This weekend I happen to come across an unusual encounter that I never expected to uncover. I saw this goldfinch flying towards the house while picking up my kitties food plates. This goldfinch was climbing in-between a 3 inch gap around the foundation of the house and some melted snow. It then climbed out of this crack and into an area that I couldn’t see from the window. I had just assumed this little fluff ball was searching for some food just before dusk (but something wasn’t right). I then decided to put on my boots and go investigate what this bird was getting into! I thought maybe it had found some stone flies or something else that was hidden in there. But, I never expected to find this goldfinch with its head tucked under its wing trying to sleep. It was cold so I assume this little birdie was trying to find a safe sheltered spot to keep out of the elements of the weather. I probably should have tried to photograph it but it was dark and some times we need to focus on the birdies best interest!!
This evening we are expecting this to be our coldest night of the year with the wind-chills being anywhere from -10° to -20°F. I wonder where my many birdie friends will be hiding this evening with such cold temperatures approaching. I do anticipate them making an early rise and starting to fatten up with my sunflower seeds.
Update: In Feb I found where a songbird had roosted for the night and I captured a photo of it!